summary : In 1976, Brian de Palma directed Carrie, Stephen King’s first novel. Since then, more than 50 directors have adapted the master of horror’s books into more than 80 films and series, making him the most adapted living author in the world today. What is so intriguing about him that directors can’t stop adapting his books? The documentary KING ON SCREEN brings together filmmakers who have adapted Stephen King’s books for cinema and television. The cast includes more than 25 directors, including Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead), Tom Holland (The Langoliers, Chucky), Mick Garris (The Stand, Sleepwalkers) and Taylor Hackford (Dolores Claiborne, Ray ). It’s a film made for the fans and with the fans, guided by international ambitions.
original language: English
director: Daphne Baiwir
Manufacturer: Sebastien Cruz, Jean-Yves Roubin
Exclusive interview with director Daphné Baiwir
Q: There are tons of great movies based on Stephen King novels. Of his works that have been made into films, such as “Stand By Me” ”The Shining” ”The Shawshank Redemption” ”The Green Mile” ”carri” ”Misery” ”animal cemetery”  — What made you decide to tackle this film?
DB: I’ve always been a huge fan of Stephen King since I was [was] a child. “The Green Mile” is my absolute favorite film. I really wanted to delve deeper into the [various] Director’s point of view because I find it interesting since he is the most adapted writer [of all time according to Google].
But we had to be pretty balanced. We couldn’t talk about all the films that were made, so we had to make some decisions. We didn’t want to [this] to be an encyclopedic film. We had to select some of the customizations in order to speak [about] a little bit more. It had been decided what the directors who starred in it would use, what the directors had to say and how it could tie into the overall story of the documentary.
It was fascinating to talk to these directors who [did] all these adjustments because they are grateful. As you say, “Stand By Me”, “Misery”, “The Green Mile”, “Shawshank” – interesting to dig a little deeper into them [creation].
Q: It took Frank Darabont five years to write the screenplay for The Shawshank Redemption. Rob Reiner and Tom Cruise read the script, and although Tom initially suggested that Rob direct, they eventually gave it to Darabont. Before that, he had never directed a feature film. Do you think he had a clearer vision of the story that it was given to him instead of bigger names?
DB: Actually, King Frank gave the rights to Shawshank after seeing the first Darabont short [“The Woman in the Room,” 1984]which was an adaptation of King’s short story . It took Darabont five years to write the screenplay because he wanted it to be so perfect. It wasn’t until he had written the screenplay that he could [wanted] to direct, although Rob Reiner was interested in doing so.
Shawshank was Darabont’s first feature film at the time, but he was directing a TV movie [“Buried Alive”, 1990], and wrote many screenplays long before they made Shawshank. He was so confident about doing Shawshank because he felt it was essential to him. When you see him speak so passionately about this film so many years after making the film, you can totally understand why they said, “Yeah, okay, do it.” He was definitely the right one Person to direct Shawshank.
Q: King’s wife, Tabitha, pulled the manuscript of “Carrie” out of the trash can, read his stories, and gave him quick, critical feedback. Some say many of the female characters are based on her. Could you talk about King’s relationship with his wife and how it impacted his career?
DB: Yes, we really wanted that to be in the documentary. She had a great influence on his work on all levels. She reads every book he writes – she is the first reader. She is the first to review his work and give him feedback. It’s interesting because his relationship with Tabitha, the fact that he was raised by a single mother, influenced the female characters he wrote in many ways. I think he writes amazing female characters in his stories.
Q: It is well known that Stephen King disliked Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining for a number of reasons. One of the most important was that this was a really personal book for him. Many of the book’s readers initially detested Kubrick’s works [as well]. What did you think of King doing a TV series of The Shining himself? Was it just for his satisfaction?
DB: You give a filmmaker the rights to adapt your story, which is your baby; it’s a very emotional bond you have with what you create. I think the fact that he wasn’t satisfied or happy with The Shining was kind of his way of fixing something that – well, the film took liberties and directions that he wasn’t comfortable with. You can totally understand his point of view when he talks about the time when a lot was wrong.
StephenKing [truly made] a great adaptation of The Shining miniseries because it’s really close to the stories. You can totally feel the character of Jack Torrance getting lost in his madness. It’s also a great format to do in a miniseries because it gives you time to explore the characters and their development. In the case of Jack Torrance in the film, when you have four hours to tell a story it’s great because that’s where you get to see some of the characters. They did that very well in the miniseries.
Q: In 1999, King was hit by a van while walking down the street [road] – a terrible accident that left him with several serious injuries. Nevertheless, he made it to the premiere of “Die Grüne Meile” during his convalescence.
DB: The “Green Mile” project was very important to him. I don’t want to speak for him because I’m not in the best position to do so, but I kind of keep in mind that when your story gets translated to the big screen — especially in the case of The Green Mile, because it was by Darabont, too , (who was such a good friend of King’s) – [you would] so happy to be there at the premiere.
It’s a work of art dear to King, so it was important for him to be a part of this premiere. It’s amazing to see how he’s recovered from the accident. After that, he continued to work on so many stories.
Q: The relationship between George Romero and Stephen King is fascinating. They worked together to combine humor and horror for Creepshow [the horror comedy anthology film, 1982]. What surprised you about your collaboration?
DB: Romero and King have a lot in common in terms of how they see the world and how they viewed horror. I think they had the same references because they were pretty close and we can feel that in Creepshow because it’s really a mix of their two universes. That King himself acted in Creepshow [illustrates] how much their collaboration was on this film. At first they wanted to do something different together, and eventually they decided to create something from scratch with Creepshow. It’s fascinating, it tells who they are.